Workplace Team Building: a Necessity, not a Luxury


Society and business run on successful teams, but in any organization it takes great leadership to build a truly great team. When constructing a team it is worth considering that team building is more than just the clever management of multiple and varied egos. While remaining mindful of the fact that a leader is only as good as his or her team, leaders who are consistently able to build successful teams and make this their trademark are an enormous asset to any organization. But what is it that such leaders do to achieve their success?

Know how you Work

Since we all have our own particular style when it comes to dealing with other people, it is important that team leaders understand how they themselves work. Taking a critical look at their own leadership style will enable them to improve their skills and hone their techniques. There needs to be a continual process of regular self-evaluation to establish whether the things leaders do are both accepted by the team and actually working. This process will enable the leader to become a more reflective practitioner, which is absolutely crucial when building a successful team. By means of this process of self-evaluation, if something isn’t functioning well, the leader must not be afraid to change direction when necessary. That accountability is imperative in building and leading teams goes without saying.

Investing in the Team

When putting together a team, leaders need to know the strengths of the individual members as well as their drivers – the things that make them tick. As a leader it is a duty to invest time in the team and understand their weaknesses too, because if leaders can target those areas for professional development, they will be able to create more productive teams. The roles and responsibilities in the team need to be clearly defined, and as a matter of course, these need to play to the strengths of each and every team member.

The team needs prompt and proactive feedback – the best team leaders do this all the time; they don’t wait until there is a problem – and that feedback has to be two-way. It is also essential that team successes be acknowledged and rewarded. Showing that their efforts have been noticed and are not taken for granted will lead to team members who feel valued and respected, which in turn will build team loyalty and trust, and this makes for a more hard-working team.

The really great team leaders understand that they need to celebrate both team accomplishments and the effort put in by the individuals who have helped the whole team to achieve. But what of the team itself? In-fighting, back biting and lack of trust in each other can quickly result in the complete disintegration of a team. How does the astute leader ensure that disparate groups of people work together well?

Team Building

Engineering social occasions or excursions can certainly go a long way towards reinforcing a group which has challenges to face, and this can lead to better communication and collaboration in the workplace. Such activities offer a great way to further develop strengths, while at the same time addressing weaknesses within the team. A brief online search will demonstrate that there is a wide range of activities to choose from, but leaders contemplating a team building event might be unsure as to the type of event which will be most effective for a particular group of people. Would seats at the Bolshoi Ballet have the same effect as Philadelphia Flyers tickets for example? When planning the optimum team building event it is necessary to consider whether, for instance, the aim of the event is to improve problem-solving or increase creativity within the team.

Team building activities must be planned with a specific goal in mind, and knowledge of the team’s strengths and weaknesses must be used to help decide on an activity. Team building events which do not directly address an issue simply will not achieve results. Consequently, the team leader needs to pinpoint the challenges faced by the group and choose events which will assist in addressing them. If, for example, there are conflicts within the team, this will be what the shrewd manager will want to address. However, it might be the case that the team members simply need the time and space to get to know each other, in which case an event must be chosen which will allow them to do that. There might also be individuals in the team who focus entirely on their own goals and successes and as a result they are harming the team. There may be low morale among team members. Others may show a strong resistance to change, which will cause a team to stagnate, or a lack of communication might be the issue. Whatever the team challenges – and there may be a whole raft of them – leaders need to prioritize and choose the events which will begin to address the most pressing needs.

The greatest events or exercises to choose in terms of their effectiveness are undoubtedly those where team members are obliged to rely on and support each other in order to succeed. They ought not to be competitive sporting activities which will serve to bring out the worst in some team members while demotivating others. Of course, following a day of team exercises and challenges there might be an opportunity for the team to bond at a ballgame or the ballet, and it is vital to bear in mind that team building is not merely a one off. It must be ongoing rather than an event which takes place once or twice a year. If there are regular team building events during the course of the year, it goes without saying that these should include opportunities for socializing and having fun together, particularly if teams need to get to know each other.

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